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Coverage dropped below 70%

     
9:43 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just as the title says coverage dropped below 70% by the end of December and it still hasn't gone up. I have 2 responsive ads and matched content with ads. I see blank spaces frequently and strangely matched content doesn't show sometimes either. I'm not talking about the ads inside of it but the entire thing. Isn't matched content supposed to show all the time?

Please help because my revenue has dropped by 50%-75%!
10:02 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hello ruggiero and welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com]

I've also seen a lot of empty ads intermittently the last 10 days at white-hat sites that should not have any issues.

The Ad Review Center seems full of advertisers so it's not the lack of ads. Could be lack of revenue, but the low ballers should then fill those spaces.

One possibility is Adsense is in the process of evaluating each page with its Mediapartners-Google bot as part of the upcoming Initial Better Ads Standards [betterads.org] compliance and until each page is evaluated, ad space may not get filled.
10:45 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi ruggiero, yes I have been experiencing the same issue that started on December 18th. It is occurring to a subset of publishers. My coverage dropped from 97% to the upper 70% and hasn't recovered.I have blank ads all over the place. I have never had a coverage below 97% ever. It was the same for years, now it dropped starting back on Dec 18th. There is a large thread on this in Google Adsense Forums titled 'AdSense Ads Doesn't Display ' (I have trouble posting links on this forum, never works correctly for some reason). Many publishers have reported this to Google and Googles response to most was that their engineers are investigating it. This is definitely an issue that is hurting a lot of publishers.
11:51 pm on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Same here. December 18th fill rate dropped - I run AdExchange. Tested everything and this seems to be a Google problem (not user error).
3:14 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yeah it looks like it's from their side. I hope they solve it soon
3:28 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There is also speculation circulating that Google has stopped serving ads on pages that is has not been previously crawled. So if you have large site with pages that are not frequently crawled by the "Mediapartners-Google" bot then when those pages are served to actual users for the first time the ad-slots will go un-filled. Typically Google/Adsense crawls the page after it has been requested.

This stems from a posted thread in Google AdSense help forum where the poster quoted a message from AdSense alerting him to this. "Brand-Protection" as it appears to be called would have rolled out on Dec 15th, more or less in line with Dec 18th date reported by many here. There were two issues with post however:

1- There is no reference to any official announcement be AdSense or Google about this. Only the "quoted" text from an email.
2- The user in question mentioned that the affected pages included a "no-follow" meta tag.

So based on these points it difficult to conclude with any certainty that this is in fact the cause. Add to this the fact that January is notoriously the worst month of the year it make such an attribution if more difficult. There is more discussions as well as links to the specific thread in the January Adsense Thread [webmasterworld.com...]

I also have seen a drop in coverage and earnings as of the 18th of December. I have since seen some recovery but not fully.
3:52 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There is also speculation circulating that Google has stopped serving ads on pages that is has not been previously crawled. So if you have large site with pages that are not frequently crawled by the "Mediapartners-Google" bot then when those pages are served to actual users for the first time the ad-slots will go un-filled.
That's what I said above.
4:07 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I can say that the above suggestion is not true for my site.
4:17 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My coverage remains at about 98% except for one high traffic page that is now at 57%. It's been around for years and obviously crawled but now is showing fewer ads and the ones that are showing - if they really are - are receiving no clicks. Makes no sense.
5:19 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I can say that the above suggestion is not true for my site
@OldFaces - What suggestion is that?

It's been around for years and obviously crawled...
@ember - If this is actually what is going on, this would be a new crawl. Pages crawled in the past by Mediapartners-Google would need to be recrawled.
5:33 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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"There is also speculation circulating that Google has stopped serving ads on pages that is has not been previously crawled. So if you have large site with pages that are not frequently crawled by the "Mediapartners-Google" bot then when those pages are served to actual users for the first time the ad-slots will go un-filled."

But wouldn't this ruin the earnings of large and active forums like mine? Even if the forum is crawled regularly new threads are still not going to show ads immediately. No wonder my earnings dropped!
6:13 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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But if Google is trying to protect brands and not allowing ads on pages that have yet to be crawled, why would they show any ads at all on those pages until they know the content is safe? Are they trying to protect just some brands? Big brands maybe? So if you have a little site with non-national advertisers they let those ads show? It seems they'd allow no ads at all until the crawl is complete. Coverage would be 0, not 50% or 70%.
6:21 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Verifying "brands" with the ads.txt file [webmasterworld.com] is only part of the story.

This is to check if ad experiences on your pages violate the Better Ads Standards [betterads.org]

[fix typo]

[edited by: keyplyr at 6:47 am (utc) on Jan 6, 2018]

6:44 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What is to check if you're violating the BAS? I understand a crawl would do that, but what does that have to do with not showing ads? If you are violating BAS, you are supposed to get a warning and then 30 days to fix the issues. No mention of suddenly not showing a percentage of ads, especially before 2/15/2018.
6:54 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It is just a *theory* (as noted above) to explain the missing ads that started about December 18, 2017.

However, I tend to think it has some merit. Next Chrome release in February will be equipped with an ad blocker that does just that.

GSC's web tools now has a report to see if your pages are in violation of any of these new standards. It also says if ads are blocked on any of your pages. The data is not there for most sites yet, which may be evidence of the crawl still not complete.
7:31 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I too have have seen a sharp decline in earnings. When I took a look at my site, there were many adverts not appearing, and showing the alternative advert instead.

The pages have been crawled many times as they are years old. I also cannot see why they would violate BAS either.
8:10 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google may not have a public announcement about the 'brand protection' initiative, but if you email your adsense contacts asking why your coverage has dropped since mid Dec they will send you the same boilerplate response referenced in the 'January earnings' thread. No need to speculate about it, just email them and ask.

I don't believe they ever gave the smaller publishers a heads up that this was happening before the holiday season (I wouldn't be surprised if some of the larger publishers did get the heads up and maybe preferential crawling to mitigate the problem). In Dec they said they thought it was a bug and the engineers where working on. By January they now say it was a result of the 'brand protection' changes that require them to crawl the page first. Maybe they didn't realize how much it would impact larger sites? But clearly the Adsense contacts I was working with were either not aware of it or where told not to say anything until late Dec early Jan.

Also, in regards to page crawling. This is only about Google's adsense bot: Mediapartners-Google. It doesn't necessary follow the same rules as the Googlebot. If you've served an ad from a page it will go there and check it out regardless of whether or not you've noindexed it for SEO purposes.
8:19 am on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I just came here because I saw so many empty ad spaces on my sites.

How do you measure your 'coverage'? Is that displayed in Adsense somewhere?

Some observations:

1) Ads not showing seems to affect mainly pages which have not been visited in a while

2) Visiting such a page immediately summons the Google Mediapartners Bot

3) After a while, reloading the page results in ads on the page

Looks like it is a crawling thing.
3:26 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You can see coverage under the 'Custom' reporting tab. Go to the default reports. Close (x out) the current 'Custom' tab and then create a new one. It gives you options to show different measures. 'Coverage' is in the list. Set your date from Nov to today and see if you have the dip starting Dec 18. Tell us what you find.
4:14 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@ember
What is to check if you're violating the BAS?

This has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with BAS. IAB and BAS will cause ads to be blocked in Chrome. This "Brand Protection" has to do with preventing ads from appearing on pages that show offensive content such as racist or sexist material. BAS verifies that ad implementation, checking for things like ad density and ad placements among others.

Just to be sure I checked my stats comparing, coverage figures for Chrome versus other browsers and Chrome has significantly higher coverage than others. More specifically Safari. You can do this in Google Analytics in Publisher Pages, by adding a secondary dimension of "Browser" and then filtering for the specific browsers. As secondary check I filtered based on Device Category also and I am seeing that coverage is lowest on mobile devices. (Note: I am using ad balancer so this may bias the device numbers)

@gorin_sis
Google may not have a public announcement about the 'brand protection' initiative, but if you email your adsense contacts asking why your coverage has dropped since mid Dec they will send you the same boilerplate response referenced in the 'January earnings' thread. No need to speculate about it, just email them and ask.

Have you received the email? The only evidence I have seen is that one post in the Adsense Forum. Even in the long 100+ post thread people are referencing that single post. It was asked here in January Adsense thread and nobody responded that they had received such an email. I have also seen a post at a Blackhat forum but this could be the same poster as in Adsense. And even if not, then it would be only two instances.
8:20 pm on Jan 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just want to tell you guys that today my coverage has went up to 80% and my earnings are back to normal. Anyone else?
10:48 am on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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gorin_sis: Thank you.

Indeed, I see a strong dip starting Dec. 18. Going from over 90% to about 70% now.

Yesterday was my lowest earning day in about a year. Even though my traffic is up.
12:08 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@gorin_sis I spoke with Google Adsense support about my coverage drop starting on Dec. 18th and they said their engineering team is investigating the issue. Several others have received a similar response. One response that someone received from Google in the long 100+ post thread mentioned that there is a technical issue and their specialist are looking into it. No one has mentioned anything about 'brand protection' in January. I looked at the persons site that posted that. The message to him was stating that they could not crawl his/her site. On his/her site, that I looked at, there were nofollow meta tags on all the posts. Was there an update made by them in December, maybe sure. If there was, I don't think they intended to have large and small publishers serve blank/empty ads all over the place.
1:41 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I don't think they intended to have large and small publishers serve blank/empty ads


I do not see empty ad spaces on large publishers sites. Do you? I find it hard to imagine that they would ever let that happen. Google is making something in the ballpark of 100 million dollars in revenue from Adsense every day.
1:50 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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1/4 of my ad inventory are blank ads, i'm losing money with more traffic
9:03 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Statement from Google about protecting brands by not serving ads on pages that haven't been crawled by the adsense bot:

"As part of Google’s efforts to increase brand safety for advertisers, Google is making changes to the way it buys impressions on URLs that are uncrawled. More specifically, starting on December 15th, AdWords and DoubleClick Bid Manager will adopt more restrictive bidding on ad requests coming from URLs that are uncrawled. This is necessary to avoid the risk of ads running on sensitive content.

We detected that your AdX /Adsense account is sending a significant number of ad requests from URLs that are not crawled. To avoid a potential revenue impact from this change, please consider the following best practices for ensuring URLs can be properly crawled:

AdSense Publishers, see:

About the AdSense crawler
How to fix AdSense crawler errors
Display ads on login-protected pages
Give access to our crawler in your robots.txt file
DFP and AdX Publishers, see Crawler Access."
9:16 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Why would Google do this if it costs them money? I could see a scenario where Google might make up the loss of revenue from the uncrawled pages from the price increase of the ads displayed on the already crawled pages. They've limited the inventory of ad space so the price will go up.

From an advertiser's perspective the advertiser would see fewer clicks/impressions from their existing budget due to the smaller inventory. As they respond by increasing their bids, the publishers whose pages have already been crawled should see an increase in RPM. Since Google gets a cut of the publishers revenue, Google benefits from this RPM as well.

So there is a scenario where it wouldn't hurt Google too much or maybe even benefit them. It all depends on what fraction of pages have already been crawled and how much the advertisers increase their bids in response to the reduced inventory. I'm sure they've modeled it out and will adjust as they need to. I wouldn't worry too much about Google's financial situation. They should make it through alright.
9:17 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As this coverage issue evolves I am becoming more convinced that the email referenced by gorin_sis has nothing to do with it and the email is specific to AdSense forum poster's situation.

In fact coverage is not the problem but only a symptom (a bad one). I have just posted in the January Adsense thread a graph (from my site stats) showing a very significant drop of Adwords ads that are being replaced with third party networks ads. What this shows is that the issue does not lie with AdSense but rather with AdWords, meaning that the publisher site should have no direct impact on whether or not ads are shown. This is a supply side inventory issue. But this is not normal, when I checked back three years there is no such a drop in Adwords impressions.

Conclusion: This is a bug but it has nothing to do with crawling.
11:51 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I tend to agree with NickMNS. I can't really see Google changing how it decides to display ads without some official notice somewhere, particularly since it is having this kind of impact. And I can see advertisers lowering bids in January - that is not unusual - but I can't see so many just stopping advertising all of a sudden to the point that demand drops 20% to 40%. It does seem more like an Adwords bug. If so, then Google is not about to say out loud that there is a problem with its advertising system. If it did, stock prices would dip.
11:57 pm on Jan 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I can't really see Google changing how it decides to display ads without some official notice somewhere, particularly since it is having this kind of impact.
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